D?ttatreya Yogash?stra, in a dialogue form between S?nkriti and Lord D?tt?treya, is a unique classical yogic text. It imparts the right concept and rational knowledge of yoga with a heavy focus on due practice with great effort.
It clearly outlines that every one is entitled to yoga practice regardless of one’s age, sex, faith and belief, sect and cult and tradition and religion, and robe and physical appearance. The text mainly describes four types of yoga that are Mantrayoga, Layayoga, Ha?hayoga and R?jayoga. Of them, R?jayoga is the highest one. Anyone can practice Mantrayoga and can attain perfection in it, but it is regarded inferior practice. Layayoga is the yoga of concentration on the object or image of God. There are millions of Sangketas (the points of concentration) described by ?dinatha Shankara.
Karmayoga as another type of yoga is also described in the text which is similar to Astangayoga (the yoga of eight limbs) and its practices. Many readers of this Yogash?stra may think that it is uncommon and not logical to describe Karmayoga as Ast?ngayoga. It seems appropriate to equate ast?ngayoga as karmayoga in D?ttatreya Yogash?stra which is neither a philosophical nor a theoretical text, but it is a practical yogic text focusing so much on practice alone. One of the many meanings of karmayoga is also ‘active exertion’ in something or ‘practical application’ or ‘dynamic practice’ of something to attain higher spiritual goal. As a s?dhaka one who follows the tradition of Siddhas according to the teaching of this Yogash?stra, he exerts himself in his dynamic practice of yoga.
So, his yoga of dynamic practice becomes karmayoga for him. Regarding the four stages of yoga, the text mentions ?rambha, gha?a, paricaya and ni?patti avasthas. In the practice of Hathayoga it elaborates mainly eight bandhas and mundr?s which are mah?mudra, mah?bandha, khechari Mudr?, j?ladhara, uddiy?na and moola bandhas, viparitakarana and vajroli. Of yamas and niyamas the Yogash?stra regards that alp?h?ra (eating less) and ahims? are supreme respectively. Of all the asanas, padm?sana alone is highly recommended to practice and also regarded as the destroyer of all diseases.
The Yogash?stra emphasizes that one can not achieve success in yoga just by reading scriptures, by wearing special garbs/dresses, by repeating mantras and by worshiping Gods and deities, but by constantly practicing it without sloth. Dattatreya Yogash?stra regards pr?n?y?ma as an important practice in yoga s?dhan?. Padm?sana is highly recommended for the practice of pr?n?y?ma. The technique of pr?n?y?ma is fully elaborated with the inclusion of the practice of three bandhas and sahita kumbhakas (with the retention of breath) for the purification of n?dis.
It is further described that when the n?dis are purified, the signs of success in the body of yogi become visible. When kumbhaka practice is prolonged gradually every day, the yogi finally attains kevala kumbhaka that is the ultimate goal of pr?n?y?ma practice. The text also explains that when kevala kumbhaka is achieved, the yogi experiences several signs in his body and attains some minor siddhis. This is called the arambha avasth?.
When kevala kumbhaka is perfected through further practice, he attains ghata avasth?. This is very important stage in which pr?na and ap?na, manas and pr?na and ?tm? and param?tm? are united. It instructs further that the yogi in this stage should practice praty?h?ra.
While practicing praty?h?ra, the yogi feels unity will one and all and also he attains miraculous powers, but he is advised neither to be attached to them nor to disclose them. After attaining ghata avasth?, the Yogash?stra explains that there occurs paricaya avasth? when the pr?na with agni enters into sushumn? that awakens the Kundalini Shakti. In this stage the yogi should practice pancabhuta dh?ranas (concentration on five elements) on the specified areas of cakras located in the yogic body including the retention of pr?na. By doing so the yogi can get rid of the fears that arise from the five elements.
After attaining perfection through practice on five elements, the text further elaborates that the yogi attains supernatural powers like anima, etc. Then the yogi should continue his practice of meditation first on saguna brahma and then nirguna brahma so he can finally attain nispatti avasth?, the culmination of yoga in which he can realize his union with Param?tm?. After achieving his union with God, at this stage, the yogi as per his will, may leave his body or he may wander as a jeevan mukta (one who is liberated while living) in this universe.